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It’s been 2 years since I’ve been to The Six and I’m happy to say things have improved with time. Their food creativity has evolved, and the result is a lively menu with food good enough to lure non drinkers to this gastropub.

I wasn’t very hungry, so I chose the Mesclun Greens with hazelnuts, pear and balsamic for $8
and was glad it was all I ordered since the plate was huge, about 11″ in diameter! The flavors were surprisingly good, from the tasted hazelnuts to the crisp pear, every component added a different layer which combined to make a refreshing plate of greens. The dressing was light enough to accent without overwhelming, and the greens were diverse enough to create different textures with each bite.

My friend ordered the Turkey Sloppy Joe Sliders with portobello, red bell pepper, and fried house-made pickle for $12. These were slightly sweet with spices that had a warmth reminiscent of a Moroccan style Ras El Hanout. This was an innovative rendition and a very generous serving for an appetizer. It was more than enough for a full meal if you are not splitting it with anyone else. The baby buns were as delightful to eat as they were to photograph.

The S’More dessert was a big version of the campfire classic. The first serving came out burnt (our waitress told us that they were still fine tuning the amount of heat to put on the topping), but the second one was good, with just enough crisp marshmallow for crunch over a sweet chocolate and graham cracker base. This dessert was a bit too sweet for my tooth, but my friend loved it.

We had a glass ($10) of the Graffigna Malbec and were glad to find a good glass of wine with innovative flavors in a pub. We will definitely be back for more, and perhaps another s’more.

The Six Restaurant (West LA) on Urbanspoon

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It’s one of the most magical times of the year; yes, it’s Dine LA week again! I always try to go to at least one new restaurant and revisit one I have not been to in over a year during the special prix fixe menu promotion. This week the new restaurant of choice was Picca, a Peruvian place specializing in small plates that are meant to be sampled and shared.

Mika, my adventurous eating partner, was so stressed from her 1.25 hour drive she ordered one of the exotic cocktails made with avocado (yes, really, avocado). I can not tell you everything in the drink; she is not a drinker, so she sipped it throughout our meal and said it tasted neither of alcohol nor of avocado, but was slightly tart, smooth and sweet. I opted for a glass of Malbec.

Although we ordered the prix fixe, we were hungry, so we added an order of the eggplant with sweet miso for $8. It was a beautiful presentation with edible flowers, crunchy buttery croutons, and a sweet miso that made the eggplant taste similar to the miso glaze usually used on fish. This was a definitely a happy way start to any meal.

With the Dine LA menu of $34 for three courses, Mika chose the grilled anticucho beet salad with burrata and lemon balsamic dressing. She adores beets and loved this salad.

I always order Spanish Mackerel whenever I see it on a menu, so my choice was the ceviche style version appetizer, made with crunchy garlic chips. The ginger sauce was so delectable, I could have slurped it. My only complaint was that it was a tiny portion because I could have easily made a meal of this dish if the portion was about 4 times bigger.

Mika chose the slow roasted beef short ribs estofado with palares beans and a salsa criolla, as her main course. I tasted the tender beef with the creamy beans, and I would recommend this to anyone looking for a classic comfort dish.

I chose the pan fried Branzino filet served with parihuela sauce and the same pallares beans served with the short rib. The fish was perfectly cooked and the creamy bean accompaniment added a hearty component to this light dish.

Mika preferred her churros plain, even though they came with three dipping sauces, dark chocolate (my favorite), salted caramel, and passionfruit.

The perfect finish to a delightful introduction to Peruvian small plates was the vanilla bean flan, which was served with a salted caramel sauce and edible flowers. It was as smooth and rich as it was visually appealing.

We’ll definitely be back:)

Picca Peru on Urbanspoon

Southern Californian weather is so enviable that people from all over the world come here to vacation, especially in the Winter, when 60-70 degrees Farenheit is considered “cold” by those of us who live here. After many years here, I’ve assimilated to being spoiled. I put on sweaters and scarves (I even wear gloves sometimes) anytime the thermometer dips below 65 degrees, and when I see people in tank tops I know instantly that they are tourists or new transplants from a region where Winter means snow.

One beautifully clear blue sky day, the beach called out for a visit, so two assimilated East Coast transplants opted to go to Gladstone’s for lunch. This place one of those tourist and local favorites that has become a bit of a landmark. After their remodel about 2 years ago, it got a much needed structural and menu facelift. The sawdust on the floor and the barrels of roasted peanuts are gone, but the casual atmosphere and the fresh seafood still draw crowds.

Their Bloody Mary for $14 (they use celery salt on the rim) is a perfect drink to go with seafood, but you can also opt for wine, margaritas, or mojitos. The Traditional Caesar for $12.95 with garlic croutons is a satisfying version with just enough garlic and parmesan to compensate for the light anchovy in the dressing. The salad is perfect for those who like the “middle of the road” between a classic table side dressing and a toned down salad bar version.

I ordered a dozen oysters from the Northwest. They were fresh, creamy, and perfect with a squeeze of lemon. I loved the caper berry accompaniment, and for those who like cocktail sauce, horseradish or mignonette sauce, all were offered on the platter.

My friend ordered a half a pound  of slow poached and peeled shrimp cocktail for $19.95 and enjoyed all of them without any accompaniment from the platter.

Not on the main menu, but offered as a side were home made lightly salted potato chips. They were as addictive as they look and thankfully crisp (unlike the ones I ate at Freddy Smalls).

Our hostess knew my dining partner, so she offered us a complimentary hot fudge brownie Sundae (normally $7) with chocolate and vanilla ice cream, nuts, chocolate chips, whipped cream on a brownie. It was a huge dessert and decent enough to satisfy, but it did not wow me enough to take more than a few bites.

The view from our beachside table on the patio was the most spectacular part of our meal. I must admit that compared to this view, any meal would come in second, so the fact that we had a good meal at Gladstone’s with a wonderful server (Chrissa from Crete), made this a perfect Winter’s day at the beach.

Gladstone's Malibu on Urbanspoon

Since it’s new, open late, and in my neighborhood, I wanted to like this place. My neighbors suggested I try it and since they like two of the same places I like, I gave it a try this week.

The good points were the decor and our waitress, both were welcoming and cheery without being overbearing. The menu of small bites and drinks offered a nice cross section of old classics like an old fashioned (a bit too sweet for my taste, but a decent version) and new twists like the brussel sprouts with cider vinegar.

Unfortunately, the bad overwhelmed the good. The manager sternly told my friend when she entered, “Booths are reserved”, and then told me “No flash photos” when I tried to take pics of our food. Both of us have worked in the food business, so we are very respectful of reservation and photography rules, but instead of telling us their policies, the manager admonished us as if we should have read his mind. Maybe he was afraid I would write a review and post photos to illustrate my points (some fears do come true). He acted more like a patrol cop than a restaurant host and made us feel as if we had run a red light & run into a pedestrian.

The food is the main reason I will not go back.

The steak tartare was overdressed to the point of being inedible and the home made potato chip accompaniment was not fried enough to make all the chips crunchy (imagine soggy chips). Yes, the photo was taken with a flash, and no the flash did not wash out the color of the meat-the actual color was the pink you see because it was so overdressed.

The bacon and cheese stuffed mushroom caps sounded delicious, but they arrived lukewarm and aside from tasting greasy, they had no flavor (very hard to do when you use quality bacon in a dish). An order is only ONE, so the two you see on the plate constitutes two orders.

The best plate was the brussel sprouts which were highlighted with cider vinegar, but even they were not good enough to warrant finishing.

Sadly our bill for one drink, one soda, and three small plates was over $50 and all we wanted to do was leave to eat somewhere else and erase this meal from our minds and palates (we ended up at Westside Tavern where the service and food were both excellent).

Freddy Smalls Bar & Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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